fbpx

7 Health Tips for Autumn from a Chinese Medicine Perspective

7 Health Tips for Autumn from a Chinese Medicine Perspective

Hi there, it’s Peter (tonika health’s acupuncturist!). Today, I want to chat about making the most of autumn. All life on earth, up until recent times, has been closely synchronised to the seasons. Modern developments have enabled us to adapt and live more easily through the seasons, minimising seasonal impacts on our lifestyle, while plants and animals are still very much in harmony with the seasons. However, we can never take away our deep primal connections to the seasons. And how they affect the functioning of our bodies. In fact, living in accordance with the seasons can help us get closer to nature, and benefit our health and lives as a result. Living with the seasons. Knowing what opportunities and challenges each season brings us. And having an awareness of which organs + body structures are most active or challenged during each season. These are some one of the ways we can best look after our bodies.

 

Organs + Body Structures Most Active/Challenged in Autumn:
Lungs, Large Intestine, Skin, Sinuses, Throat

 

My 7 tips for autumn to benefit your health

 

1. Let go of what you don’t need, and gather what you do 

Autumn is a time when leaves shed from trees. It’s also a time when we can ‘let go’ of things that we don’t need in our lives. Limiting habits, unwholesome thoughts, foods that don’t benefit us, relationships or people that aren’t serving us (or reconciling if possible), toxins that are affecting our health. It might even be time to exercise the KonMari method (or your own method), and throw away what you don’t need around the house! If you need to let some emotions and stress go, then focus on mindfulness techniques, do some breathing exercises, or seek  counselling. Remember that once you let things go, you leave space for great things to flow into your life.
At the same time, focus on cultivating helpful habits and thoughts, eating nourishing foods, solidifying relationships with people you care about and that nurture you, and supporting your body’s natural detoxification functions (if you’d like to know more about detoxification, we can assist).

 

2. Get your bowels moving!

Autumn is a time where the large intestine is especially active. This means it’s an excellent chance to let go of the ‘shit’ in your life. Not just physically, but emotionally and mentally too. Chinese Medicine believes that, when we can process our bowel motions better and more regularly, we’re able to let things pass emotionally and mentally. If you need to get your bowels moving:
  • Consider your fluid intake. Are you drinking the right amount of water? The general recommendation is 2L daily, but our requirements are all vastly different. Some people need more and others need less. Please ask us for further advice.
  • Also consider your fibre intake – think an abundance of fruits, veggies and other plant-based foods such as psyllium husk).
  • To get support your intestinal motility, check out my blog on Stomach Qi massage and practice it regularly.
  • Other things to support your digestive system include massaging your stomach in a clockwise motion and eating fermented foods like kimchi .

 

3. Breathe

The lungs are at their time of peak activation during Autumn so it’s a great time to get to work on them. There are so many varieties of breath-work. In general, relaxed expansion of the belly on the in-breath and contraction of the belly on the out-breath is what we are aiming for. Practice mindful breathing like this for about 5 minutes a day…longer if possible! To accentuate the power of your breathing exercises, you may also add the dimension of  releasing negative energies, emotions and thoughts with your out-breath. And bringing in positive energies emotions and thoughts with your in-breath.  If you want to learn more, ask me during our next appointment as I’m also a  Systema Ryabko breath work instructor.

 

4. Be chill, but don’t get a ‘chill’ 

Autumn is the time of the year when the general temperatures are moving from warmer to cooler. As we traverse each season, our body adapts to more heat or cold gradually. During winter, we’re usually wearing warmer clothes, and during summer we are usually wearing cooler clothing, and our body becomes accustomed to these norms. In autumn, the temperature moves gradually from summer to winter and we can have a combination of hot and cold weather. This sometimes means that we need to wear layered clothing to traverse the temperature changes. As the temperature ranges so much, bodies aren’t always great at adapting to it. We might be sweating one moment and be experiencing cool breezes (a risky combination for getting a ‘chill’). This is considered in Chinese medicine the most easy time for the body to get sick – when the changing temperature range is hard for the body to cope with. When the body experiences what’s commonly known as a ‘chill’ (usually on the back of the neck or back), our immunity has already dropped and we’re more susceptible to colds and flus . We need to do our best to avoid this occurring during any season, but it is very common to occur in Autumn. This awareness around temperature changes can save you from weeks of productivity loss from time off due to illness from colds and flus throughout the year.
  • Avoid drafts of cool air – especially while sitting or stationary for long periods of time, when asleep. Also when moving from somewhere warm to somewhere cold (e.g. training inside the gym, then walking from the warm inside to a cooler outside for the journey home) .
  • Keep an appropriate scarf for the season with you. Silk in summer, light weight in spring or autumn,and thicker in winter. In Chinese medicine, the back of the neck, base of the skull and back of the shoulders are important areas keep covered to avoid colds and flus. Wearing a scarf over your neck and shoulders is one of the best ways to protect your body from temperature changes and reduce susceptibility to colds and flus!
  • If you’re feeling cold, have a hot shower as soon as possible, with hot water mainly focused on your neck and back. If it’s more accessible at the time, have some warm food or drinks. Or warm your back on any heat sources (heaters, sunshine etc) available to you.

 

5. Keep your sinuses / nasal passage and throat healthy

Also a particularly active area of the body in autumn, these areas are considered the entry point into the respiratory tract and are where people often first experience signs and symptoms of colds and flus. Some mucus in these areas is normal, however excessive or not enough mucus is considered a problem. There are various foods to keep the mucus membranes healthy if there isn’t enough secretion (e.g. ground flaxseed and other foods rich in omega 3). If there’s too much secretion, there are also various methods you can use, including saline nasal sprays from pharmacies, or gargling with moderately salty warm water. To gargle, simply use luke warm water in a glass and mix in some salt to taste, swish and gargle for 30 seconds and repeat until you’ve done about 3 rinses. If you suffer from chronic sinus issues, please consider seeing one of our team to assist you.

 

6. Care for your skin

This is one of the structures/organs of the body that is most challenged in autumn. The health of our skin can be benefited by a number of things: good blood circulation, sweating, exfoliation, moisturising, and a balanced dose of sunlight plus hydration.
  • One of the ways to support circulation and to sweat is through exercise .
  • Another way to assist the health of the skin is to exfoliate. Just like the falling autumn leaves, we need to make sure we’re shedding dead skin cells from our skin (including scalp, face and body). Exfoliate your scalp  with gentle but firm brushing of the scalp with natural bristles. Exfoliate your skin with wet face towels, a loofah, a pumice stone (for the feet), exfoliating washes (go for the natural ones please), sea salt, and skin brushing with natural bristle. Use gentle methods on your face.
  • Moisturising is something that should be done daily, and also after exfoliating. Use different moisturisers for your face, delicate eye areas and body. The best solution is always to use a natural product with minimal chemicals and preservatives.
  • Water is also an important factor in keeping the skin moisturised. Ensure you are drinking the appropriate amount of water (see Tip 2 for more advice on this).
  • Sunlight is my last recommendation . Not too much, not too little, but just the right amount. If you’re getting 10 minutes of direct exposure to the sun each day on a decent percentage of your body, you’re doing well. Of course, different skin tones and types will have different requirements. Also, those with genetic susceptibility, to or history of skin cancer should consult their GP regarding sun exposure).

 

7. Regularly massage your Immune Zones (particularly if they’re sore)!

Last but not least, we have a golden nugget from Master Nagano, one of the most revered acupuncturists of the 20th century in Japan. Master Nagano identified some zones on the arms that are excellent for the body’s immunity. These are particularly related to the throat, tonsils and gut. Start stimulating these points on the left and right arm every day. Massage them with your thumbs for about 30 seconds a few times per day (and longer if they’re sore) to help your immunity through autumn and going into winter. These points have many effects, however one of the main effects is to increase the body’s healing and blood circulating properties in the upper respiratory tract. Check out the image below for some help with the location. If it doesn’t make sense, ask me at your next acupuncture appointment.